Vols begin season ranked in preseason AP Poll

    by -

    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    While Tennessee has been on the outside looking in of most preseason polls, the Vols are now full-fledged members of one major top 25 poll.

    On Monday, the Associated Press released its annual preseason top 25, which included teams that are currently not scheduled to play in 2020 due to COVID-19 season cancellations.

    The SEC, however, is planning to play a 10-game season and the AP picked seven teams from the league, including Tennessee at No. 25 overall.

    Other conference foes that made the cut included Alabama (3), Georgia (4), LSU (6), Florida (8), Auburn (11) and Texas A&M (13). The Vols are slated to face all of those teams in their 2020 SEC-only schedule.

    The appearance by Tennessee is the first in the AP Top 25 in nearly three years. The last time the Vols were ranked in the poll was Sept. 10, 2017 during Butch Jones’ final season — a season Tennessee ended up finishing 4-8 after starting the season 2-0 with wins over Georgia Tech and Indiana State.

    The Vols’ top 25 billing adds to the optimism the team has heading into Jeremy Pruitt’s third season after starting 2019 1-4 and finishing on a six-game win streak that concluded with a win over Indiana in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. UT went 8-5 in year two under Pruitt.

    Tennessee had previously come up just short in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll that was released earlier this month, tying Boise State for the most votes received outside of the top 25.

    According to the AP, while the preseason poll includes teams from the Big Ten and Pac 12 — conferences that will not play this season — the polls will rank only the teams that are playing once the season kicks off in September.

    The Vols open their season at South Carolina on Sept. 26.